“Friendship with the world …”
The letter of James is full of challenging spiritual statements. Many are applicable to the world which surrounds us. James was writing at the time when Jerusalem was about to be destroyed as his half-brother (our Lord) had warned. The great majority had rejected the divine message, it is evident that, 30+ years after their Lord ascended to heaven the convictions and commitment of believers was in serious decline.
What James writes is also appropriate for the world today and the spirit among many who consider themselves believers,
“You ask and do not receive”,
“because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions … Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? (4:3,4).
What he writes next reminds us of what Paul said to the people of Athens – about the unseen presence of the only real God, encouraging them to
“feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’” (Acts 17:27,28).
Compare this with what James told believers in Jerusalem about God,
“He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?” (4:5).
The Creator of all things, it is clear, sees and knows all.
In Judges we read about Gideon; in his days the people had largely forgotten their history, especially the faith that Moses and Joshua inspired in them as they started to possess the promised land. The nation was in deep trouble, Gideon had an astonishing encounter with an angel of the LORD and asked him,
“if the LORD is with us why has all this happened …” (6:13).
We know the reason, few in our world will know the reason when our world starts to really fall apart. Finally, what Isaiah writes in chapter 33 is a sort of prayer, an inspiration that we can and should take to heart,
“O LORD, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in time of trouble” (verse 2).
We all need to experience “friendship”. How do we find ours? Does it sustain us spiritually? Above all, how real in our divine relationship? Is it “our arm every morning”?